I know that I complain a lot about some vegetables on this blog, but a lot of my vegetable dislikes are induced by sheer volume. Green beans are a different story. I really find them blah except when dressed up in a green bean casserole. (Hello holiday season! Looking forward to you for the joy that condensed cream of mushroom soup, green beans and French’s fried onions bring!) Also, oddly, the only other way I enjoy them is when canned. I don’t know why, but I infinitely prefer that mushy texture and waxy taste to the taste of fresh green beans. So summary: green beans boring… but they sure can be pretty:
But like all things in life, I find green beans significantly improve in my esteem when fried. It seems like fried green beans are popping up on menus and cooking shows everywhere, whether as an appetizer or as a substitute for fries. I don’t order them though, either because I want to save my calories for something else on the menu… or because there are onion rings as a side option (okay, those two reasons usually go hand in hand), so when I got some more green beans from the CSA, I instantly thought of putting our often ignored fryer to good use. An even better reason? A friend has moved just a block away from us, and having another person with whom to share a giant plate of fried green beans over drinks helped reduce the guilt factor.
So then the question arises: what can I do to make fried green beans my own thing? With some fresh dill in the fridge, I chopped some up and added it to the tempura batter. The other way to make these fried green beans uniquely my own– the dipping sauces. I offered two sauces to contrast with the green bean’s distinctly vegetal taste: a sticky, spicy, sweet Thai style sauce and in contrast, a cool lemon dill aioli. With either sauce, you couldn’t go wrong but the green beans themselves? A revelation! For once, I loved that fresh green bean taste, the crisp snap of the bean enhanced by a light, crunchy crust that pops with bright, grassy dill. These were so good that when we came home after sharing a plate at my friend’s place, we promptly fried the rest (and a small onion) to go with burgers for dinner. Uh yeah… it somehow seems less glutinous when I offer as my defense that I still had tempura batter that needed to be used, so uh, there. Screw it– it was sooooo worth it.
Note: I liked how these green beans had a whisper thin fried coating, but if you prefer your green bean fries to have a thicker coat, try tossing the green beans in flour before placing them in the tempura batter. The flour will stick to the moisture on the green beans which then helps the batter cling better to the beans. For the Thai sweet chili sauce, you should be able to find this either in your grocer’s ethnic foods section or at an Asian grocery store.
- 1 lb fresh green beans, barely trimmed of stemmy tips
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- about 1 cup (or about 1/2 a can) of cold seltzer water (more or less– it’s a texture thing)
- sea salt to taste
- peanut, vegetable, or canola oil for frying (4-6 cups)
- 1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce mixed with Sriracha to taste
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise, mixed with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill and salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a deep fryer or in a large, deep soup pot over medium heat. (If the latter, pour enough oil so as to have about 2.5-3) inches of oil, but oil should not fill the pot more than half way.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder and dill. Gradually add cold seltzer water, starting with a half cup and then in tablespoon sized increments, whisking all the time, until the batter reaches the consistency of heavy cream. Dunk a large handful or two of green beans in the batter, making sure the beans are entirely coated with batter. When oil is 350 degrees F (measured with a candy thermometer or alternatively– when small bubbles form when you place the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil), place coated green beans in a spider or fryer basket and submerge in the oil, frying for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Scatter fried beans on a paper towel lined baking sheet and season with sea salt to taste while beans are hot. Repeat with remaining beans, making sure the temperature of the oil is back up to 350 degrees F before frying (reduce heat if necessary to maintain oil temperature.)
CSA Count: 3
Green beans, dill, garlic